Education, Homeschool

Music appreciation

In this world where the vulgar and crude are considered acceptable and even desirable, we desire to teach our children an appreciation for things of quality and beauty. Elder Douglas L. Callister said it best:


The nearer we get to God, the more easily our spirits are touched by refined and beautiful things…When some music has passed the tests of time and been cherished by the noble and refined, our failure to appreciate it is not a condemnation of grand music. The omission is within. If a young person grows up on a steady diet of hamburgers and french fries, he is not likely to become a gourmet. But the fault is not with fine food. He just grew up on something less. Some have grown up on a steady diet of musical french fries. (emphasis added)

I just love this quote. It is so true that many today are growing up on a diet of cultural french fries and the love of fine arts is declining. With it decline manners, respect and basic human decency. My husband and I find great value in classical music, fine art, theater and other expressions of true talent and do our best to teach our children to appreciate this kind of entertainment.

We use the Stories of Great Composers as a basic overview of some of the most famous composers. While the Stories of Great Composers comes with a cd, it only includes one song per composer which is certainly not enough to familiarize a child with that composer.

Amazon.com has a great series of CD’s/MP3’s called Classical Kids The best of…and they have one for almost every composer. Here is the Best of Mozart.  I love it because they offer a very reasonably priced mp3 download ($6.99 each cd) and the most famous works are included.

The idea is to expose the child to each composers works so frequently that they learn to recognize one composer from another. I think spending 3-4 months on one composer (4 composers each year) is a good amount of time to listen to all the works as well as study the composer’s history. We just finished Beethoven and are now working on Mozart.

We read about his history in our composers book, then while they are working on activities like building with blocks, playing with playdough, etc, I have the Classical Kids Mozart playing in the background. At the end of May we will travel to Austria to visit Mozart’s home.

Here are several online resources that make it fun for children to learn more about the composers and musical instruments:

Arts Alive Great Composers
New York Philharmonic Kids Zone
Classics for Kids
DSO Kids

Another fabulous resource is Maestro Classics. You can purchase a CD or download the MP3 version and each CD gives a very detailed overview of famous works like Peter and the Wolf, Swan Lake and The Tortoise and the Hare. We have Peter and the Wolf and the boys just love it. It gives a great introduction of all the characters, plays the story, talks about the composer and includes a booklet with activities and descriptions of some unique musical instruments. I often catch the boys acting it out and sometimes I’ll turn it on while they’re drawing and they stop to listen and anticipate what will happen next. I also love that you can try out samples of each on their website before you buy.

What resources do you use for teaching music appreciation?

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